Tucson, Ariz - The Arizona Wildcats met the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the first time on Sunday, coming away victorious. Arizona was presented with the Parseghian Cup after defeating Notre Dame 17-5. The match was played in benefit to the Parseghian family research towards combating Niemann Pick Type C.
“It was a great privilege to play against Notre Dame, especially on a day like this,” Arizona Head Coach Dave Sitton said. “Win, lose, every player and coach knows that this was for the greater good.”
The Wildcats got on the board first in front of a sold-out crowd at Murphey Field. After Arizona’s defense denied two Irish try attempts by holding the ball carrier up in goal, Cody Naber was launched into space on line out ball and scampered for a 60-meter try in the right corner. The tough conversion attempt failed and Arizona took the 5–0 lead.
Just minutes later, a missed 22-meter penalty kick from Notre Dame set up the second try of the day for Arizona. Ryan Matyas broke the line and flew deep into Notre Dame territory, before tossing a scoring a perfect offload to wing Shane Carter, who was in close pursuit. The conversion was missed again and Arizona led 10-0.
The Fighting Irish were able to cut the Wildcat lead late in the first period. Notre Dame forwards surged forward on a tap penalty move five meters from the line. The forwards got the shove on and under the pile an Irish player touched it down. The conversion failed and the scoreline at the break was 10-5 Arizona.
Both sides traded multiple possessions in the second half before finally lighting the scoreboard at Murphey Field. After a successful lineout in Notre Dame territory, Arizona spun the ball through flyhalf Andrew Matyas, who found his brother, fullback Ryan Matyas, in space. Ryan broke the line and ran the distance, scoring between the sticks. His conversion closed the day’s scoring at 17 – 5 to the home team.
Notre Dame kept fighting, but was only able to get close to the try line, never crossing it.
“Notre Dame played very hard and it’s exactly what we needed,” Sitton said. “We still have much work to do, but we moved a lot of players around in the back line. We didn’t have our full compliment of backs ready to go today. We are hopeful that this match will provide us with the experience to move forward against the rest of our PAC Conference opponents.”
Arizona was without several members of its team on Sunday due to injury. Center Jack Arnold (ankle), Halfback Joe Kunz (shoulder), wing Michael Kinsey (Achilles), and wing Connor Sohn (foot injury) all missed the Notre Dame match.
Both teams will continue the new tradition with the next meeting occurring at the start of the 2013-2014 season. That match will be played in South Bend, Ind.
“We knew we were doing the right thing as a university and a rugby program to start this for the foundation, but I don’t think we understood the true importance of it until we sat at the breakfast yesterday morning," remarked Notre Dame head coach Sean O’Leary. "I think the guys understand that we’re playing for a greater cause and it has really touched them. I just can’t wait for the fall when we host Arizona up at our place."